In Spain, it has become increasingly popular to install individual air conditioning units. This has resulted in an extremely high demand for electricity during peak load periods – and a poorer urban environment from several perspectives. The city council in Barcelona therefore decided that the time had come to promote a more efficient and environmentally responsible cooling supply.

The first district heating project was launched in 2002 and was followed shortly afterwards by two more successful solutions. The biggest district cooling network in Spain was brought online in 2004 and covers the newest section of Barcelona, known as the FORUM area.

The city council in Barcelona was quick to showcase the numerous benefits of district cooling:

  • Greater energy efficiency through the use of sustainable and surplus energy.
  • Reduced environmental impact compared with conventional air conditioning. District cooling solutions help cut emissions of greenhouse gases and contribute to a better, healthier environment for the population.
  • New value in the form of new services that can be exploited commercially and thus make Barcelona more attractive to investors.

Succeeding with the impossible

On the launch of the project, many of its objectives were considered to be ‘impossible’. However, after five years of painstaking planning and close collaboration with LOGSTOR experts and other partners, the installation was in place in 2004, ready to supply users with efficient and eco-friendly cooling. The system was originally dimensioned to operate with a cooling capacity of 17 MW and a storage capacity of 5,000 m3, and it is linked together using a network of preinsulated pipes from LOGSTOR. The primary source of energy is steam, which is generated in a treatment plant for solid urban waste, located right next to the installations. To start with, five users were connected to the system and received 16.5 MW of the cooling capacity.

Production and efficiency benefits

When commercial operation was launched in March 2004, the installation supplied 16 MWh of cooling and 5.3 MWh of heating. This enabled the city council to reduce the consumption of primary energy by 30% and to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 31% (corresponding to more than 1,400 tonnes of CO2 in 2004).

Success factors

The key success factors behind the positive development of district cooling in Barcelona were:

  • the commitment of the local authorities to supporting the development of an environmentally responsible energy supply
  • the persistence of the supply companies in convincing the first users to connect to the network
  • the comprehensive town planning, which integrated energy infrastructure into the layout of new areas of the city
  • a densely populated area featuring numerous buildings with an elevated need for cooling, which constituted the ‘critical mass’ necessary for the project to succeed
  • a strong, mutually obligating working relationship between public and private sector players, which laid the foundations for the project and was distinguished by excellent coordination of the complex planning processes between all the parties involved.

Building owners and property administrators were quick to realise the numerous benefits of district cooling, and new users were soon queuing up to connect to the network once it came online.

Expansion into new areas

Towards the end of 2004, work was started to expand the network to include the areas of the city adjacent to FORUM – especially the technology district 22@. Comprehensive preliminary studies, analyses and negotiations between public and private sector players to include 22@ had been under way since 1999. Following the success in the FORUM area, the city council decided to accelerate the process and introduce district cooling to this section of the city as well,

and in 2005, Districlima was awarded the commission to supply district cooling to 22@. This entailed expanding production capacity to 50 MW and storage capacity to 26 MW in the period up to 2010. Expansion was primarily to take the form of increasing capacity in FORUM’s district cooling centre, although a satellite centre was also planned. Expectations for requirements in 2010 were for 100 MW.